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‘Battling’ North of Scotland schools squad set sights on national glory

By Niall Harkiss

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The north of Scotland schools' under-15 select beat Aberdeenshire, Dundee and Aberdeen City on their way to the final. Picture: Ben Bruce
The north of Scotland schools' under-15 select beat Aberdeenshire, Dundee and Aberdeen City on their way to the final. Picture: Ben Bruce

The North of Scotland could soon be crowned Scottish Schools Cup champions.

The under-15 select combination, which represents schools across Highland and Moray, booked their place in the final of the Scottish Schools’ Cup back in February, after a series of “battling” performances against some of Scotland’s biggest school regions.


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A thumping 7-1 win over Aberdeen City secured their spot in the national final, which is due to be played next month.

The team now patiently await the outcome of the south semi-final between Glasgow and Paisley & District schools, ahead of a cup final meeting against the winners at Riverside Stadium in Perth.

An exact date for the game is still to be set.

The road to the final started in August last year, when two sets of trials were held, involving under-15 aged players nominated by Highland schools.

Players were selected from Lossiemouth High School, Millburn Academy, Culloden Academy, Kinlochleven High School, Charleston Academy, the Nicolson Institute, Dingwall Academy, Inverness Royal Academy, Kingussie High School and Invergordon Academy.

It is the first time the trophy has been contested since 2019, when it was shared between Dundee and Forth Valley following the outbreak of Covid. The North of Scotland last won the cup in 2011.

Drawn in a qualifying group with Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City, the north hopefuls reached the next stage thanks to a victory over the ‘Shire select on October 31, after losing their opening game away to City by the odd goal in five a few weeks earlier.

A hat-trick for Samuel Maclennan (Nicolson Institute), and goals from Eoin Munro (Dingwall Academy) and Cole Thomson (Inverness Royal Academy), resulted in a momentous 5-4 win for the Highland and Moray youngsters.

In February, Maclennan was on the mark with another hat-trick in a 4-3 quarter-final win over Dundee, with Thomson also on target.

The win set up a semi-final opportunity for the north to exact revenge on earlier group opponents Aberdeen City, and they did just that.

The under-15s cruised to victory against the city select, who finished the game a man down after a late sending off.

Maclennan was the star man again with his third hat-trick of the campaign, while Joe Coyle (Kingussie High School) also got in the act with a treble. Thomson netted his third of the campaign to take the tally to seven.

Under-15 coach Aidan Hersee, who is also a PE teacher at Inverness Royal Academy, said: “The boys have been absolutely outstanding and we have built a really strong squad. This is the first north under-15s squad we have had since the pandemic, so it’s been great to get the association back up and running.

“To be doing so well in the competition just highlights the quality of players we have across the whole of the north of Scotland.

“The boys have been excellent since our first group game and they have been a credit to the association, their schools and themselves.

“We have displayed some really strong battling performances but most impressively have played some excellent football against strong opposition.

“The team have been clinical at important moments and a number of the boys have contributed with goals and assists. The Nicolson Institute’s Samuel Maclennan scoring hat-tricks in his last three matches has been the difference for us this campaign.

“We are now really looking forward to the final and we hope to bring the trophy back up North, it’s been about 13 years since it was last won by a North of Scotland side.

“I’d like the thank all the support we’ve had from schools, parents and committee members who have gone above and beyond to support the young north boys throughout the competition.”

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